As of today, May 27, and the Orioles are .500. Despite Baltimore being beyond the pale these past 13 years, that’s pretty typical for them.
Aside from the past two years, when they were bad in April and May too, the 21st-century O’s play decent baseball through 40-plus games. Then the ass drops out. Or, as I wrote three years ago:
This is Birdland: hanging around .500 through May and then bottoming out for the final four months of the season.
Will these Birds bottom out in 2011 though? Let’s consider a few things:
1. No one’s drastically overperforming offensively. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are above their career averages, but not significantly so. Vlad’s doing better than I expected, but these are still the worst numbers of his career. Markakis, Scott, Reynolds and Lee haven’t hit much. And Brian Roberts just isn’t there. If anything, I see the offense improving over time, especially if Nolan Reimold hits like Babe Ruth.
2. The pitching hasn’t been all that special either. Zach Britton is the motherflippin’, for sure, but the rest of the rotation has done what you’d expect the rest of the rotation to do. And they figure to get Brian Matusz back soon. The bullpen has been a bit of a mess, especially Gonzalez, Berken and Gregg. All three should get better; Gonzalez and Berken pretty much have to.
3. Buck Showalter is a miracle man. The O’s were 32-73 when Buck took over last summer. They’re 58-47 since. That is over the course of two-thirds of a season, and that is insane.
Last September I did some research and declared, “History says the O’s will win 80 in 2011.” Of course I didn’t believe it at the time, and we probably shouldn’t now. But I’m starting to come around.